What’s this? This is a fictitious scenario designed to help banks build customer trust through responsible use of data and technology. Help us by joining the conversation.

A Five Trillion Dollar Problem

Cybercrime is on the rise. According to the World Economic Forum, 4.5 Billion data records were breached in the first half of 20181. It could happen to you: you pay $500 for a phone that never arrives; your computer including all your data is locked unless you pay a $5,000 ransom; you click a link in an email to reset a bank password, only to discover that the link is fake. A lot of it goes unreported because victims feel humiliated. Listen to this podcast to get a feel for how insidious cybercrime is: NPR Episode 931: The IT Guy Vs. The Con Artist.

Sadly, some of the theft is perpetrated by family members of victims:

  • Sexually transmitted debt (affecting 16% of women in Australia)2; and
  • Elder financial abuse (affecting 3-6% of older Americans)3

Accenture forecasts that Cybercrime will cost US$5.2 trillion over the next 5 years4.

A Higher Duty of Care

If you willingly hand over money to a con artist, your bank is unlikely to reimburse you. You authorised the transaction, so it’s on you. At times, bank staff are disempowered to act even if they want to, for example when children coerce their elderly parents into liquidating assets.

Imagine this: the year is 2022. Polidor is a new entrant into the banking industry that behaves like a high tech company.

Polidor President, Indra Anand, says: 

“We believe banks need to do more because banks have a higher duty of care. In the olden days people put their money in banks because banks had large safes and were better at protecting money from gun-toting criminals. But the nature of money has changed, and so has the nature of crime. Why entrust your money with banks that don’t give you protection from the changing nature of crime? If not to protect your money, what else are banks for?”

Introducing: Rosie

Rosie is Polidor’s Cybercrime AI watchdog that bites. Using Polidor’s Artificial Intelligence, Rosie monitors not just your accounts, but the financial flows of all accounts to look for suspicious activity. Here are three examples:

  • You would like to purchase a mobile phone. The seller, who is a con artist, asks you to process a cardless withdrawal at an ATM. As the con artist attempts to make that withdrawal at an ATM, Rosie’s alarm bells ring, because based on your phone’s current location, Rosie notices that you are not in that state. Rosie notices that someone else has made exactly the same request earlier in the week: Rosie tracks down the transaction that took place last week, locates the video recorded by the ATM, uses facial recognition to identify the individual, confirms that it is the same individual, completes a background check e.g. employment status, criminal record etc.. Rosie suspects foul play, and freezes the transaction. The dodgy seller is refused the money. Rosie sends you a warning notification and makes a number of suggestions to confirm the legitimacy of the seller before proceeding. Meanwhile the details are reported to the police.
  • Your elderly mother is unwell. You convince her to give you her debit card and PIN, so that you can help her buy some groceries. At the cashier your transaction is declined. Rosie has been watching your mother’s bank account and notices that her expenses have crept up considerably higher than her long term average. Rosie believes this grocery purchase includes numerous items that Rosie doesn’t normally purchase. Rosie gets a staff member at a bank to call your mother. The staff member isn’t convinced your mother is of “sound” mind. This triggers a series of processes including a visit from the Department of Aged Care Services. It turns out that when your mother turned 65, she was prompted by Polidor to sign-up for Rosie. Your mother opted for maximum security giving Polidor the right to monitor her spending patterns and to intervene on her behalf.
  • Your computer is seized by ransomware: “Pay $5,000 worth of bitcoin into this account or we will destroy all the data on your computer”. You decide to yield to the ransom demand and organise a money transfer. Rosie senses foul play, and blocks the transaction. You lose all the data on your computer. Polidor believes that, long term, this is the best course of action because it will force the perpetrators out of business. Apparently, you gave Rosie the consent to do this when you signed up for the service.

Rosie tracks millions of transactions to look for patterns of suspicious activity. It integrates data across retailers and ATMs. It uses biometrics to identify individuals from video footage. It uses the location services on your phone. It blocks transactions that looks suspicious, even if you have fully authorised the transaction. Accounts that are suspected to be owned by criminals are frozen and seized by Polidor. Rosie analyses the financial health of every customer to look for signs of financial distress, including those that might be vulnerable to getting into debt unknowingly.

Polidor President says, “We’re setting the bar for what it means to be a bank. Anytime now, we expect customers of other banks to file for compensation if their bank fails to practise the same duty of care. Hundreds of customers are switching to us everyday and opting in for Rosie — because it’s what banking is meant to be.”

Do you agree? What do you think of Rosie? What concerns might you have about Rosie? What harm could Rosie cause or what risk could Polidor face?

1https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/03/here-are-the-biggest-cybercrime-trends-of-2019/

2This is where one person in a relationship becomes responsible for their partner’s financial debts usually after being convinced or misled into taking on debt in their own name, sharing the responsibility, or taking on more risk than they knew about. https://www.nowtolove.com.au/lifestyle/money/sexually-transmitted-debt-56407

3Elder financial abuse occurs when another person (typically your children), manipulates your decisions, or controls your access to money or other property without your consent. It can happen to anyone, no matter how old you are or how much money you have. https://aifs.gov.au/publications/elder-abuse/export.
Support this campaign: https://www.ausbanking.org.au/campaigns/elder-abuse/

4https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insights/security/cost-cybercrime-study/

Enter Team Code